Monoprinting

I take calligraphy lessons in one three hour intensive session a month. Inevitably, I do my homework diligently for the first couple of weeks, then kind of taper into not remembering to do it at all by the time my next lesson rolls around. To combat that – and the drudgery of doing lettering drills for an hour or more a day, every day – my teacher has asked me to start keeping an art journal where I cut out the best letters from my practices, make small free-form pieces, and generally experiment. Even if it is one more thing to do, it is a GOOD thing and one I should have been doing all along. Seeing your progress really does bolster and inspire you in your art.

To kick off the journal, we did a watercolor monoprint, let it dry, and wrote on it using a pencil. Pencil is actually a grand practice tool for pointed pen calligraphy since it lets you focus on just forms and keeping a light hand without having to think about ink, pressing, releasing, pen angle, and all that. You can go back through and draw in the thickened areas when you’re done. The monoprint I did was just a couple of colors smeared onto wet glass, covered in a sheet of watercolor paper. No big deal. It looks something like this when it’s done, and then I can letter on it, add layers, whatever. If I had wet the paper well first, the paint would have flowed and absorbed better, making each section far less distinct.

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Here’s another one I did in the same session with lettering on it. The paper was wet when I laid it down this time. The lines that are darker are because I ran them into the paper with a blunt object while everything was still really wet. I used the end of my paintbrush, but a reed pen works better. The surface is, in effect, bruised – the ink pools there, it’s darker. You can even scratch in words, almost like a watermark.

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Today, I was thinking about monoprinting, never having explored it before, and realized that there’s a lot of potential for putting layer on layer. In googling techniques, I found this:

 

Pretty cool, huh? His treatment of layers, of additive work and gentle building of texture really spoke to something in me. There’s such possibility in layering printed or decorated tissue over the print or layers of cellulose etched and treated to build a final scene. I’ve resisted making modern art for a very long time, preferring to press into the warm bosom of historical techniques and tools. But this? This is finally inspiring me in a way I haven’t been in a long time.

 

 

Dublin Hood for Sable Swap

20131008-170709.jpgThe gift is out and on its way to its recipient, so now I can put pictures of it out in the world. I made a Dublin hood, which is a simple peaked hat in linen or wool. It’s a rectangle with one of its long sides stitched up to make an enclosed back. For the Sable Swap, I cobbled together a peacock out of two different birds in the Book of Kells, extending the tail around the whole of the hood so there’s a big embroidered part on each side of the front. (Photos are below.)

The whole thing is done on linen, almost entirely with silk threads. Silk is lovely for embroidery – soft, vivid, and it catches the light in the most beautiful ways. Something like this is a great place to play with it since you get a lot of bang for your buck by putting it somewhere so prominent that won’t get a lot of abuse. I’d carefully hand wash it without agitation and dry it flat, lest the silk lose its luster.

You could hand-sew a simple one in an hour, and it’s a grand use for scrap fabric. They can have a folded back cuff in the front or not. They can have ties hanging from the front edges. They can be plain, trimmed with silk or woven bands, they can be embroidered with motifs or done up with drawn thread embroidery around the seams. They can have this little peaked back or a rounded one. It’s nice to have an accessory that looks adorable and comes together quickly and easily.

This may be my new favorite take along handwork project! It’s compact, uses simple stitches, and I worked the whole of it in the hand rather than on a hoop (although a frame would have been a nice thing to work it on, if you really feel like you need the tension). I think that less elaborate versions would make a fabulous item to give as largesse, too! Here’s what the hat looks like on my mom. I made her model it on my way to the post office!

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Greenland Gown – Sleeves

Soooooo I got bored of yards of double herringbone and decided to do one of the sleeves for an excuse to do something different while still being productive. I needed to have a sleeve sewn up to attach into the main body and one panel of side gores to even try the thing on. It would have been smart to do that before embellishing. I was feeling brave, having done a great deal of measuring to pattern the thing, and somehow the sleeves wound up about 4 inches too long.

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20131008-163436.jpgThere’s nothing to do but chop off this beautiful sleeve, learn my lesson, and do it over. That’s ok by me. The wavy lines were totally freehand and got more inconsistent than I felt good about. Maybe the new ones will be big enough to do a little cluster of three glass beads inside each!

The good news is that the 2/3 of the dress I have stitched together and can try on seems to fit and hang very, very well. This is something of a miracle because I have an awfully hard time sewing for myself and having it come out right. I always doubt the measurements, make it bigger, and then wind up looking like I’m swimming in ill-fitting clothes that once belonged to a larger version of myself.

This dress seems like it will be pretty, comfortable, and free me up to wear fewer layers when it’s warmer here.

Greenland Gown Project

I was challenged by Mistress Magge at Laurel’s Prize to make something wonderful, practical, and beautifully worked for myself, as most of the stuff I do is for others. It’s extra sad when it comes time to show off a body of work because none of your best efforts are in your hands. Also, I tend to forget to take care of myself, and it’s good to remember that I’m important in my life and deserve the same love and generosity I show others. Enter the great Greenland Gown Project!

20131007-163901.jpgMistress Magge was kind enough to walk me through constructing an 8-gore dress from one of the Greenland finds. I desperately need to make new clothes for myself, so it was a timely challenge. I had the right amount of deep purple linen at home, so I set to work. It was simple to pattern and efficient on yardage, so I imagine I’ll make more of these.

I’ve decided to hand sew the whole thing because it’s not as fussy as my late period stuff is. And because I wanted to feel smug about it. I don’t think I’ll do all hand sewing next time, though. It’s been a very satisfying thing that’s going faster than I thought it would.

Considering that there are a lot of these seams to double herringbone, I feel like my progress is about to slow considerably…